European gold for Jo Pavey
East Devon athlete Jo Pavey became the oldest woman ever to claim gold at a European Championships when she won the 10,000m in Zurich earlier this week.
Fourty-year-old Pavey, a mother of two who only gave birth to her younger child Emily 11 months ago, ran the perfect tactical race to match the gold won by her old friend Paula Radcliffe in Munich 12 years before.
With two laps of the race remaining French runner Clemence Calvin - 16 years her junior and almost 20 seconds faster this season - went to the front of the race, but Pavey stayed on here heels and, at the bell, Pavey took charge to go on and seal her first ever major title.
She becomes the oldest female gold medallist in the championships’ history.
Earlier this summer she also picked up a bronze medal in the Commonwealth 5,000m.
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Post match the athlete said: “I just can’t believe it. I was finding it quite a long way - I was thinking, is this the right event?
“I’m really thrilled. I tried to do a controlled last lap, but when I got to the home straight I thought, just give it all you’ve got, so you don’t regret anything.”
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Born as Jo Davis on Seotember 20, 1973 in Honiton she met husband Gavin Pavey when the pair ran with Exeter Harriers and they married in 1995.
She studied physiotherapy at Bristol University, graduating in 1995.
The time - 32 minutes 22.39 seconds - was irrelevant, Calvin hanging on for silver and her compatriot Laila Traby taking bronze.
British team captain Goldie Sayers had given a speech on the eve of the championships asking her team-mates a simple question: “How would you perform if this was the last time you would ever compete?”
Her victory came with her 40 years 10 months and 23 days and that surpassed the previous ‘oldest European champion’ held by Russia’s Irina Khabarova (40 years and 27 days) when she won her title.
Pavey has also refused to rule out an appearance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games when she will be 42!
When asked if she could take part in the next Olympics Pavey said: “Yes definitely. Before this year I thought ‘how long will I carry on?’ But I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’ve still been able to be competitive. I’ve definitely got no thoughts of retiring yet, I’m still enjoying it.”
She added: “I’ve tried at this sport for so many years and for it to come now, being a 40-year-old with two young children, it seems quite funny really. But I’m glad I kept going, I feel so happy in my personal life and that has definitely given me a lot of motivation. I didn’t know if I would even qualify for the Championships because I was still breastfeeding at the start of April. My times at the track were pretty bad but I thought I would just keep plugging away.”
“I can enjoy my running now and I don’t get stressed about training,” she said. “I train really hard and I think being really busy and keeping on the go has given me more endurance.
“When I go out there and race I think I have got to make it worthwhile but I am just enjoying it and I feel really fortunate.”